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My Unexpected Incredible Texas Food Tour: Part II

16 Jun

img_2318Here is the sign welcoming me to my sister’s beautiful house.

 

Seven days is not enough…Taking on two Texas cities calls for at least one week in each city. Nothing in the Houston Area is quick and around the corner from what I can tell. Here are some notes/advisements I thought I could share when planning a big trip:

  1. Do a lot of research on places of interest to you.
  2. Create a daily to-do list and a plan of attack.
  3. Map out destination locations and plan your tour according to distance and proximity. (If  there are events, places, and restaurants of interest in the same or close area plan to see those on the day, permitting there is no conflict with dress code or other requirements.) Doing this will allow you and your companions to cover more ground in less time on your trip.
  4. Start early in the day on your adventure.
  5. Find out in-advance which places are difficult to get into, will most likely will have a wait, and/or requires pre purchasing tickets.
  6. Parking? How much does it cost? Is it close to your event or destination?
  7. Last but not least… If you are planning for public transportation such as Uber or Lyft verify that it these services are available in that area. (Trust me.)

**Following these pre planning steps should insure you and your accompaniment a smooth and successful time on your trip.**

Here I am enjoying the night air at Cowboys and Indians..
Continuing on our tour……..

Have you ever been to Central Market Gourmet Grocery Store?….This lovely place houses everything noteworthy for making your breakfast, lunch, dinner or event the best of the best. I love, love, love grocery stores… Not just any grocery stores though. I love the kind that inspire me to cook great food or try new ingredients because their ingredients look good enough to eat right there in the store. Isn’t that good looking food when you just want to create something delicious on the spot?  From domestic and exotic produce like baby pineapples and kumquats and dragonfruits to cheeses of every flavor and texture, and $17 dollar jams and jellies too. (That is not a typo and I did not buy it. I wanted to though.) The meat department would make you flip it starts from one wall and ends on the other just for the fish and seafood and on the other side is the beef, pork and poultries and its wall to wall too!. Then there is the dried spices and herbs section, it is pretty cool to offer such a broad spectrum of flavors and be able to purchase just what you need. No need to buy a whole jar of anything there if you will never need it again or just want to sample it for your dish. You can just buy what you need. If lived in this area, Central Market Grocery and I would be on a first name basis.

Baby Pineapples and more are available at Central Market. 



Other Amazing things inside Central Market

  • Pre prepared fresh ingredients for soups for quick dinners (packaged and bagged ready for easy pick up)
  • The bakery section has an infinite number of baked goods and fresh breads ready to eat.
  • The Cheese section. That’s all I have to say about that. Cheese is everything.
  • Chef prepared hot foods and cold food selections.
  • Cooking Classes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
  • Healthy Living Department
  • Housewares, Dinnerwares, and Cookwares

I could’ve stayed there for one full day, just creating ideas in my head….One day I will. Next time you’re in Texas look for Central Market. You won’t be sorry.

Central Markets shopping bag gives hints to all the awesomeness inside the store.
On Friday during my Houston/Austin Texas takeover we visited Bourdreaux’s a Cajun restaurant and bar. It was early evening and not very busy in the bar section so we sat there and ordered Frozen Hurricanes. I also ordered a basket of Hushpuppies with jalapeno’s. Hushpuppies are especially delicious when they are hot just out of the fryer…  Bourdreaux’s served the fried cornbreads with butter. That was new for me. I eat butter always on cornbread, but never considered it for my hushpuppies.. I continued to think further on it. Why not honey butter or why not just honey? That would be delicious…. Savory hot fried cornbread rounds with honey or maybe even a good maple syrup?….. Ok, let me calm down…… I will have to try it at home……In the mean time these hushpuppies make the grade.

 Frozen Hurricanes…..

From Boudreaux’s we ventured on to what is know as “The Flat” a Houston area bar/grill music venue. This hidden gem gave me a bohemian vibe just from the lighting and ambiance…  The DJ kept the mood right with music that switched from Hip Hop to R & B without pause keeping us music lovers satisfied. It was still early evening and not a whole lot of patrons, but I appreciated the atmosphere and the beats. The outdoor patio area still had more to offer with the rhythmic sounds playing outside too. The perimeter was enclosed with wooden fencing and lined with planted trees and various greenery. Lighting the early night would be white lined lights. It was beautiful. This place was perfect for a girl like me who appreciates intimate music lounges. No disappointments here. Good music. Good people. Good Vibes.
The Flat offers coffee options too I see!

The patio in the back of  The Flat.
From the flat we Uber’ed to Cowboys and Indians. A Tex- In kitchen. Get it? A Texas, Indian Kitchen A blend of Texas American food with the flavors and spices of India is what the description advises. Cowboys and Indians offers a variety of dishes for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans too. Offering traditional burgers, fries, and salads and american desserts for the Cowboy appetites and if you desire Indian tastings you would be happy to see Butter Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Vindaloo, Beef Coconut Curry and more. Being semi full from the hushpuppies I decided to go with the Beef Samosa’s (flaky  pastries filled with ground beef and onions). I opted out of the offered dipping sauce for traditonal barbeque sauce. Mi hermana (my sister) offered the no meat option of this same dish.  Hers was filled with curried potatoes and peas. She also had the crispy fries.

Cowboys and Indians a Tex-In Kitchen menu

Beef Samosa’s: Tasty!!
We sat outside in the covered patio section, the weather was threatening to rain and the sprinkles were beginining when we arrived but with the patio being covered there were no worries of being saturated by the water. So far I can say that I love the option of being able to dine outside at a lot of eateries. This is one my favorite things in Texas.

 Me again, in the covered patio section of Cowboys and Indians.

Lastly on this weather perfect Friday night we made our final appearances for the evening at The Alley Kat bar. The music was pumping as soon as you hit the door. The source was unknown. People were enjoying the sounds, the drinks and each other.  Out of all the places we checked out tonight, this place had the largest turnout.  The Alley Kat was like a maze to me. There was an upstairs featuring live music, and a separate downstairs section with more music possibly coming from a sound system, and outdoor seating protected from the immediate outside.  The best part of Alley Kat was the female singer. I did not catch her name and I am still disgruntle over it… I just remember her singing like Chrisette Michele covering an India Arie song. She was great. Her performance to me was definitely worth that stop.

On my to do list while in Texas:

  1.  Sprinkles Cupcakes
  2.  In -n-Out Burger
  3. The Breakfast Klub

Confirmation. It was meant to be.

Number one was done. Number 2 was getting checked off on Saturday, and number three I didn’t think was going to happen. Katrina was not interested in going to The Breakfast Klub which is quite a hike from the home base, you’re almost always guaranteed a wait and with limited hours of operation (so we thought) it was looking like a “no go”. I had given up on eating at the Zagat rated restaurant. While walking through the maze of The Alley Kat bar a sign was posted noting The Breakfast Klub is now open from 10pm-3am. YES! YES! YES!.. There’s still a chance!…… The Alley Kat sat right behind The Breakfast Klub.  I was destined to be there after all….It was fate….. Again, so I thought. My belly had been feeling queasy and full since the Hurricanes and I could not even consider just doing just a tasting here; where they were once voted one of the best breakfasts across america. I wanted to have a full scale smorgasbord tasting. The menu boasts of pancakes, wings and waffles, katfish and grits, biscuits and gravy, eggs and more!!!! I am heartbroken. No Breakfast Klub for me. Not tonight. Not this trip….

 Today I am recovered from my Hurricane belly. I miss those wings and waffles I haven’t met yet. I was so close…..Yet, so far.

Making the painful decision to abstain from breakfast for dinner; we decided to head to the homestead and prepare for tomorrow. Austin Texas our weekend adventure!

Texas Foodie Adventure Locations: Part II

Central Market Gourmet Grocery: 3815 Westheimer Rd, Houston, Tx 77027                  Phone: 713.386.1700

Boudreaux’s Cajun Kitchen: 17595 Tomball Pkwy, Houston Tx 77064                                Phone: 713.463.0099

The Flat: 1701 Commonwealth St., Houston, Tx 77006                                                             Phone: 713.360.7228

Cowboys and Indians Tex-In Kitchen: 1901 Taft St., Houston, Tx 77006                            Phone: 713.485.6724

The Alley Kat Bar & Lounge: 3718 Main St., Houston, Tx 77002                                             Phone: 713.874.0722

The Breakfast Klub: 3711 Travis, Houston, Tx 77002                                                               Phone: 713.528.8561

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Unexpected Incredible Texas Food Tour: Part I

2 Jun

I’ve just recently returned from my first visit to Texas. I went by airplane to Houston to visit my sister for 1 whole week. This trip included my first plane ride since I was a 14 year old and, prior to that I had only flown once.  I was a complete novice at this whole airport and airplane thing (buying tickets, picking a seat, paying for bags, checking in, printing a boarding pass)…. whew! Can’t someone put me to sleep and wake me when I arrive? No such luck with the help of an anesthesiologist though. I was fortunate enough to have worked over night before the flight. Sleep was in order after all once we reached flying altitude. I slept all but thirty minutes of the flight when the captain announced we were making our decent into Houston. Yes! I did it!  I got on a plane and did not have to be sedated by choke-hold from air marshals due to my heightened anxieties.

This is me waiting to board the plane in Detroit after numerous delays.

 
The plane had a flat tire.

 
I got off the plane so excited… So excited to be on the ground, so excited to see my sister, her 2 dogs, and the city she decided to make her home 10 years ago.  I am so extremely proud of her. She is such a self-starter, so driven, determined, and focused. In this one week she inspired me and motivated me without even trying.

My sister was waiting for me with this wonderful sign when I got off the plane.

 
So, upon my arrival to Houston we immediately wanted food. My sister drove us to Guadalajara Hacienda, a Mexican restaurant. I went there with my mind on one thing. QUESO and CHIPS… welp, mostly queso. I was hoping for a hot and spicy melted cheese bowl and warm chips. I didn’t even get that far. After they seated us in the beautiful outdoor patio section, we were greeted with red salsa, chips, and a white and green cream sauce they called “Creamy Cilantro”.  Let me tell you, I was skeptical and hesitant to try it, but I’m so glad I did.  The dip was served cold, flavored with cilantro and spicy jalapeño with a sour cream and mayonnaise base. This amazing dip closed all my thoughts of Queso cheese for the next few days. I ate all of that dip by myself and then requested more. The server was so generous he brought me enough for 2 days of snacks. Pure delight was my state of mind. It was so yummy? Why have I never had this before? Is this only available in the southern Mexican restaurants? Who know’s, but I have to learn how to make this at home…STAT! My sister and I enjoyed a delicious dinner after the chips and dips. All I have to say is Guadalajara Hacienda, I will be back!

I’m pretty sure I was hypnotized and could not think beyond my taste buds. Therefore, I do not have any optics for Creamy Cilantro…. Stay tuned for pictures of my copy cat version!

 

 

The menu for Ooh La La Dessert Boutique. Several pages of dessert options available.

 

On day 2 in Houston we visited Ooh La La Dessert Boutique. Walking in I was immediately impressed with the ambiance of this place. It was a larger space for a bakery but, not too big. There is enough space for both hungry customers waiting to make a to-go purchase and for customers who want to sit and enjoy their tempting treats in store. The food cases enclosed tall layer cakes, cheesecakes, creme’ brûlées, cookies, and cupcakes of all different flavors. Also on the menu were coffee drinks and lemonade. I decided to order 2 cupcakes, Nilla Nilla (vanilla) and Bunny Boo (carrot). My only disappointment occurred when I ordered my Bunny Boo cupcake. I very clearly asked if there were nuts in the cupcake. The young man said no nuts were in the cake. Turns out there were nuts hiding inside there. The cake was tender, moist and a pinch spicy…… with nuts. I was deceived. Anyhow, I ate around the nuts and then advised the same young man; indeed there were nuts in the cupcake and had I had a food allergy, that could have been very hazardous. I took my other cupcake home for later.

Bunny Boo Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
Tasty carrot cupcake after the first bite.

 
After I had my event with the life threatening carrot cupcake, we drove to another part of town for lunch. Crab cakes for me. Sushi for my sister, Katrina. All I have to say about this stop is she is the winner of picking the right entrée/sushi roll. A vegetable tempura roll with fried asparagus and sweet potato rolled and topped with tempura served with wasabi and ginger. It was tastier than my crab cakes. I wished I ordered it….. Whomp, whomp….. Don’t look back on your past Kim, you’re not going that way.

 

 

On to the next…..cupcakes!

Sprinkles Cupcakes!  Cupcakes, Pupcakes, and Ice Cream too!!!
Sprinkles may I please have four more cupcakes to go! In this box at least…..

 
Our last and final stop of physical face stuffing for the day ended in cupcake heaven. It’s not named that, but that’s what I’ll call it….Yes we hit 2 cupcake bars in one day. So what? Who’s counting the cupcakes anyway? (I think I bought 7 total between the 2 shops. But, that’s between you and me.) Sister had told me about this cupcake shop named Sprinkles that offered delicious cupcakes including a vegan Red Velvet cupcake and a traditional version too. I accepted the challenge. I’ll take the vegan Red Velvet the traditional Red Velvet and raise you 4 more various cupcakes. This Houston location has a small store front with what looks like a very large kitchen in the back. In the display case at Sprinkles you will see cupcakes, pupcakes and, happiness all around. I was totally absorbed in this place with a self titled theme song playing in the background that I did not hear the retail associate talking to me….. I only remember placing my order for our cupcakes and paying for them before I heard the words that have me contemplating my life’s meaning….. “The cupcake ATM is in the back.” Wait. What did she just say? The associate was talking to someone else but the words were meant for me.  She said it again. “It’s open 24-7.”  I wasn’t dreaming. I must see this on demand cupcake deployment machine, NOW!  My sister probably thought I was having a mental breakdown at this point, as I say “Please drive me around to the ATM.”
…..And, there is was: A true story. Cupcake heaven for sure. Magic in a box. A cupcake ATM.

This is not a drill!! A cupcake ATM is a real thing. We are at DEF CON 1. DEF CON 1. Cupcakes prepare to be annihilated……..

 

 

So, you know I had to use it. I did. I didn’t need any more cupcakes to take home with me. I saw a nice lady coming by the ATM and offered to buy her one to see how it worked. She accepted. I ordered the flavor of her choosing by touch screen, paid with a debit card and watched it work. Neatly placed in a brown cardboard box for 1, it came down the ATM and laid flatly on the surface ready to for consumption.

All I want to know is who is the genius behind this awesomeness? Is it possible to get one installed at any address? (Asking for a friend.)

How is this happening?….. Push a button and dessert comes out?…. This is the end of life as we know it, to say the least.

 
After I got home and calmed down from all the excitement, I was able to test my Red Velvets. The traditional cake was yummy moist red cake with light notes of chocolate with cream cheese icing. Again, I was impressed.  Testing the vegan version was the true test though. For months I have been hearing about this vegan alternative and how delicious it is. It was my turn to judge it. With skepticism swirling around my taste buds. I took a bite and thought “this can’t be right”. “Let’s try that again.” The same exact deliciousness I received from the first bite is what I got again. Fresh moist red cake with  hints of cocoa with a vegan cream cheese icing…..You know what? I like it better than the traditional Red Velvet. Who knew?

Vegan Cupcake on the left. Traditional Red Velvet on the right.

 
The first two days of my Texas adventure were already winners. How could it get any better?…. Just wait, because it does.

I’ll tell you more soon!!

Have you ever been on a foodie adventure?

What places are on your foodie adventure checklist?

 

Texas Foodie Adventure Locations:

Guadalajara HaciendaMexican Restaurant: 27885 I-45, The Woodlands,             Texas 77380                                                                                                                                 Phone: 281.362.0774 (4 Texas Locations)

Ohh La La Dessert Boutique: 770 W. Sam Houston Parkway N. Suite 500 Houston, Texas 77024                                                                                                                                 Phone: 713.465.6338  (3 Texas locations)

Sprinkles Cupcakes: 4014 Westheimer Road Houston, Texas 77027                        Phone: 713.871.9929 (Nationwide with 4 Texas locations) 

 

 

 

 

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